Chip and Sandy are like many married couples who say, "We're making it" in marriage. Recently I asked Sandy, "Do you ever feel great about your marriage?" She paused, clearly uncomfortable with the question, and replied, "My husband doesn't abuse me, doesn't cheat on me and hasn't left me. I would say that I am blessed."
Indeed, God has blessed Chip and Sandy. But, Sandy's response left me pondering the meaning of "great" marriage. God wants us to have not only life but to experience it abundantly (3 John 2). Yet, Sandy seems more aware of what is thankfully absent than nourished by what is abundantly present.
Maybe I should have asked Sandy a different question: "Does God occupy the center of your marriage?" After all, a God-centered marriage assures God's blessings upon the marriage covenant, fosters authentic partnership and models genuine love for others.
Many couples fall short on this point because God is pushed to the margin of the relationship. These couples have a sense of God, but they may compromise on obedience to His Word. They may pray for God's presence in their decisions, but lack the patience to wait for God's timing. They may seek more godly influences in their lives, yet their jam-packed schedules leave little room for meaningful relationships. The Apostle Paul describes this phenomenon as a form of godliness, but one lacking its power (2 Timothy 3:5). These power-deficient marriages are mediocre. Are you settling for the mediocre in your marriage?
The secular influences that surround us can exact a toll on marriage. Protecting your marriage against these stressors requires effort in five areas: unconditional commitment to the marriage, trust, respect, healthy boundaries and protected couple time.
The Holy Spirit emboldens couples to resist the stressors that erode their marriage only if they move God to the center of the marriage. Abundant marriage is within your reach as you allow the Holy Spirit to reveal and heal your strengths and weaknesses. In healthier marriages, this may just require additional insight. More troubled marriages are likely to require intervention by others who are committed to the health of your marriage.
Many couples enter into marriage with false or unrealistic expectations. Some believe that marriage will solve their problems. Some do not understand that strong and rowing marriages are a result of hard work.